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Adrenal Fatigue – The Facts

There’s significant buzz in healthcare concerning the common issue of adrenal fatigue. It is related to stress and negatively impacts sleep. Some studies show adrenal fatigue affects more than 60% of Americans and up to 80% of adults at some point in their life. Adrenal fatigue is linked to medical conditions including; cancer, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis.

Though the Adrenal Glands secrete a handful of hormones, they are critically important to one’s health namely:

– Cortisol – The ‘stress’ hormone
– Adrenaline – ‘fight or flight’ hormone
– DHEA – ‘longevity’ hormone [helps maintain circadian rhythms with cortisol]
– Testosterone

So what is Adrenal Fatigue?

Due to the Standard American Diet (SAD) being so high in sugar, carbohydrates and toxins, the body has essentially become acidic, toxic and inflamed. The inflammation typically begins in the digestive track initiated by the immune system. The immune system is designed for short bursts to defend the body against invaders or to repair damaged tissue.

In the case of chronic inflammation, this prolonged state carries its own dangers of breaking down tissue healthy tissue resulting in artificially aging the body. To counter this, the body secretes additional cortisol at all hours to reduce the inflammatory response. This is where we see major problems impacting the adrenal system.

The combination of today’s society placing more stress on individuals and unhealthy eating is creating an environment where the adrenal glands are over producing cortisol leading to depletion or adrenal fatigue. Stress and toxins compound this problem by reducing hormone production while also interfering with transmission of hormones in the body. There are other pathways by which adrenal glands become fatigued, though studies show this is by far the most common.

Common Causes of Adrenal Fatigue

Constant stress, processed foods, sugary foods, GMOs, toxins, constant use of stimulants like caffeine, hydrogenated oils, caffeine, sugar, vitamin B deficiency – can’t convert serotonin to melatonin


Adrenal Fatigue’s Impact On Sleep

Cortisol’s daily responsibility includes regulating our circadian rhythms [better known as our sleep cycle]. Our adrenal glands do this by releasing cortisol early in the morning to get us up and ready for the day. It is commonly referred to as the “stress-hormone” because it is also released as part of the ‘fight or flight’ response.

However, if cortisol is constantly being released to reduce inflammation, this subjects the body to a heightened state at night making it difficult to fall asleep. This also limits its impact in the morning making us feel tired all day.



Most Common Sleep Disorder

Type 1 sleep disorder is the most common type of sleep disorder. This is mainly a serotonin or melatonin deficiency. Melatonin is the hormone produced in the brain that puts you in a sleep state. Serotonin is the precursor to melatonin and necessary for its production.

Serotonin – The ‘happy transmitter’, it has many similar effects to dopamine through different pathways.


Men: Take Notice!

Adrenal gland health is very closely tied to testosterone production. Constant cortisol secretion negatively impacts testosterone levels. This drop in testosterone leaves a person feeling sick, tired and stressed. Additionally, low levels of testosterone are linked to erectile dysfunction.

If your adrenal health is bad, then your endocrine health and testosterone production will also suffer, which is pretty obvious as cortisol is the main enemy of testosterone. Impaired adrenal glands will make your cortisol secretion go crazy in the absolute worst times possible.



  • Blood sugar problems, insulin resistance, hypoglycemia
  • Low cortisol levels increase cravings as blood sugar drops
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Brain fog, concentration problems
  • Difficulty falling asleep (you feel “tired and wired”) or restless sleep
  • Digestive symptoms
  • Fatigue, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Feeling stuck in the “on” position – overwhelmed and overdrive
  • Food cravings, especially for sugar, carbs, or fatty foods, and afternoon sugar or caffeine cravings
  • Frequent colds, infections
  • High blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes
  • Hormonal imbalances, PMS, fertility problems, menopause symptoms
  • Inflammation, joint pain, fibromyalgia
  • Irritability, anxiety, or depression
  • Insomnia
  • Waking up tired in the morning
  • Weight gain (especially that “spare tire” or those “muffin tops”)


Tests For Adrenal Fatigue

Having low T3 & T4 production from the thyroid [hypothyroidism] is a good way to confirm adrenal fatigue. Incidentally, this reduction slows metabolism and causes weight gain. Other tests include testing cortisol levels at multiple intervals during the day.


Natural Remedies


B vitamins – these are precursors for serotonin and melatonin. They are identified as slowing hyperactivity in the mind.

GABA – low levels have been linked to addictions, anxiety and nervousness. This critical amino acid calms the nervous system. For maximum absorption choose phenyl-GABA to allow passage past the blood brain barrier.

Tryptophan – is also a necessary precursor for melatonin, serotonin production

Adaptogenic herbs

Holy Basil, Reishi mushroom, Rhodiola rose, Ashwagandha

Magnesium – stimulates DHEA production, B vitamins. Again, for maximum absorption choose magnesium glycinate. The glycinate has the additional benefit of independently reducing stress.

Eating The Right Foods

Incorporate more of these in the diet: coconut oils, olives, butter, veggies, spinach, kale, seaweed.


Fats & sugar are the body’s main energy sources. The body has 4-6 hours of sugar stored in the form of glycogen located in muscle and the liver. Using up these sources of sugar first thing in the morning forces the body to utilize enzymes that promote ketogenesis. If the body never uses up the storage, these enzymes become impaired. Nutrition professionals overwhelmingly suggest the healthiest diets are Ketogenic or fat burning for our main source of energy [they also provide most stable energy levels].


The Atkins diet works by starving the blood of simple sugars, so the body has to convert the excess fat in the liver and elsewhere into glucose to provide energy, thus reducing body fat. If there is not enough Cortisol production by the adrenals, this conversion of fats and proteins to stabilize blood sugar levels will not take place.



  1. https://www.anabolicmen.com/how-to-heal-adrenal-fatigue-naturally/
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Founder at Zen Herbalists
Brendan Gaughran holds a degree in Molecular Biology. He has been at the forefront of developing high quality formulations for nearly two decades.

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